Small Business: Game developers

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Rebeccah Cox, app designer and founder of Bexcellent Games.
Rebeccah Cox, app designer and founder of Bexcellent Games.

Well, NZ's game developers are an approachable bunch, full of amazing ideas and happy to talk about their experiences. A good few made contact last week including some big hitters like Gameloft, an international company which decided NZ was a good place to set up an office given our strong skills base in 3D and animation.

A big thanks to NZ Game Developers Association chair Stephen Knightly for the contacts he gave me. He has his own interesting game business InGame which creates games for businesses to help talk to customers and staff which you will read about this week.

It seems that a key global audience to win over, when creating a game, is US soccer moms, looking for something to do when they are waiting outside a ball game to pick up Junior. I will be becoming one of these soon but truthfully a book is going to win hands down over a game every time for me. I suspect I am in the minority.

No surprise, but game developers seem to largely be men, though I do feature one woman game designer this week, Design School graduate Rebeccah Cox.

Meanwhile education entrepreneur, Frances Valintine is responsible for training many talented techies in gaming at both the Media Design School and her new venture for kids, The Mind Lab. She points out New Zealand developers are producing mostly games designed for children or families.

Many issues came up in the columns this week. How do you protect your IP as a game developer? You move faster than anyone else, says experienced game developer, Chris Blackbourn of Modka Games who runs his empire from sunny Waipu. And he points out games are the perfect export.

For an industry which is the perfect export, there has not been a great deal of government funding so far but the founders at Flightless tell me, as the industry grows, they are noticing more funds broadening their scope to include games which they find encouraging.

Rebeccah Cox from Bexcellent Games, says that Screen Australia has been helping fund games for years, so how about it New Zealand Film Commission doing the same? And the recent Media Design School graduate is doing her bit, going to local schools to talk about her industry and skills.

Chris Wilson of Grinding Gear was working on something else this week but check out Ben Chapman-Smith's stories on the innovative company known for its recently launched Path of Exile game, a PC-based online role paying game (RPG) set in a fantasy world. It already had more than three million registered users before its formal launch.

Next week: Now is a key time for every retailer out there as well organised types are shopping for family overseas and at home. A recent news report said that retailers weren't going to be hiring more staff in the run up to Christmas, they would just be working harder. Is this true in your case? How do small businesses motivate and manage staff at this crucial time of year?

- NZ Herald

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